Linda Evangelista Gets Support From Fellow Models After She Says She's Been 'Brutally Disfigured' by Procedure

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Linda Evangelista attends 2015 Fragrance Foundation Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 17, 2015 in New York City.
Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty Images

Linda Evangelista says she's stepped out of the spotlight for five years due to a botched cosmetic procedure. On Wednesday, the 56-year-old supermodel shared on Instagram that she underwent Zeltiq's CoolSculpting procedure, which she claims "brutally disfigured" her and destroyed her career. 

ET has reached out to Zeltiq Aesthetics for comment. Evangelista has filed a lawsuit against the company for $50 million. Court documents obtained by ET state that her "quality of life, her career, and her body" were "all ruined in 2016 after she was permanently disfigured as a result of using ZELTIQ's CoolSculpting System as well as the multiple procedures and surgeries required to try to correct those physical injuries as directed by ZELTIQ." The lawsuit also states she developed PAH (Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia) after undergoing the treatments. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, the cryolipolysis procedure, also called CoolSculpt or CoolSculpting, is a fat-reduction treatment that uses controlled cooling to target and eliminate diet and exercise-resistant fat. Meanwhile, according to Healthline, PAH is a rare but serious side effect of CoolSculpting, in which the fat cells in the treatment site grow larger rather than smaller. 

In a statement to ET, Evangelista's attorney Daniel Markham of Wrobel Markham LLP said, "On September 21, 2021, Linda Evangelista through her counsel Wrobel Markham LLP filed a products liability lawsuit in the  Southern District of New York against ZELTIQ Aesthetics, Inc. ('ZELTIQ') for grievous injuries Ms. Evangelista suffered as a result of ZELTIQ's CoolSculpting System. By doing so, Ms. Evangelista is standing up not only for herself but for others who have been similarly injured and ignored by ZELTIQ." 

"It is telling that ZELTIQ disclosed the risk of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia ('PAH') to its investors in its SEC filings years before disclosing that risk in any of its aggressive direct-to-consumer marketing material. Zeltiq’s 2012 10-K warned its investors of possible 'additional liability from claims related to known rare side effects such as late-onset pain, subcutaneous induration, hernia, and paradoxical hyperplasia' and that its product liability insurance 'may not be adequate to cover [ZELTIQ] against potential liability,'" he added. "Remarkably, ZELTIQ’s marketing material and the CoolSculpting website failed to mention the risk of PAH until after Ms. Evangelista underwent the procedures. ZELTIQ failed to even include any general warning on CoolSculpting’s main homepage until February 2019."

In her Instagram message, Evangelista revealed her health struggles in recent years.

"To my followers who have wondered why I have not been working while my peers' careers have been thriving, the reason is that I was brutally disfigured by Zeltiq's CoolSculpting procedure which did the opposite of what it promised," she writes. "It increased, not decreased by fat cells and left me permanently deformed even after undergoing two painful, unsuccessful, corrective surgeries. I have been left, as the media has described, 'unrecognizable.'"

She also said she's suffered greatly after developing PAH.

"PAH has not only destroyed my livelihood, it has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness and the lowest depths of self-loathing," Evangelista writes. "In the process, I have become a recluse. With this lawsuit, I am moving forward to rid myself of my shame, and going public with my story. I'm so tired of living this way. I would like to walk out my door with my head held high, despite not looking like myself any longer."

The fashion world showed plenty of support for Evangelista in the comments section of the post, including her fellow legendary supermodels.

"Linda—your strength and true essence are forever recognizable and iconic! Bravo! 💋" Cindy Crawford wrote.

Naomi Campbell commented, "I applaud you for your Courage and strength to Share your experience and not be held hostage by it anymore .. You know I love you . We love you ., and here for you always Right by your side. I can't imagine the pain you gone through mentally these past 5 years ., your free of it now .. remember who you are , and What you have achieved and your influence and all the lives of people you have touched , and still doing so to this very day by sharing your story. Proud of you , and support you every step of the way .. ❤️❤️."

Christy Turlington simply wrote, "You are loved."

Helena Christensen wrote, "It would've taken immense courage and strength to write these words. I can honestly say that I broke down in tears reading this. Not only because I knew in my heart you somehow had been quietly going through something deeply personal and disturbing but also because I thought of all the scars life leaves on us all, whether physical or emotional and how long we suffer mostly in silence and alone. It is so important and beautiful when someone steps out of the shadow and are brutally honest and real. Thank you for being beautiful inside and out ♥️."

Moschino designer Jeremy Scott also showed his support for Evangelista.

"YOU ARE AND ALWAYS WILL BE A SUPERMODEL NOW ADDING SUPER ROLE MODEL OF COURAGE TO YOUR GLORIOUS RESUME. I LOVE YOU ❤️," Scott wrote.

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